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July 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm #12358
And, no, I don’t use that term as an exaggeration. For those not familiar with it, Action Park is a legendary water park here in the NY/NJ/PA area. Legendary for its numbers of injuries and the amazing yet unsafe rides that it used to have.
I don’t think anyone who ever personally viewed the Cannonball Loop will ever forget it.
-HansJuly 31, 2011 at 2:50 am #13810
Ah yes, the Cannonball Loop truly defies physics. I kindof wonder how anyone made it over the loop… and what happens if you don’t make it all of the way over the “hill”? It looks like your options is trying to climb up one way or the other if you get stuck. From what I have read of Action Park, the rides seemed to be cobbled together by someone with a concept, but not any idea of engineering of safety… I am a big fan of theme park visitors leaving the park whole and undented… WhiteWater did recently create a looping slide, but the loop is not circular and is kindof on its side. http://www.whitewaterwest.com/aqualoop.htmlJuly 31, 2011 at 8:48 pm #13812
I spent some fun time reading up about the park, so I can answer those questions. If you didn’t make it all the way over, and you slid backwards to the low point, they had an escape hatch to get you out again.
Supposedly they had a “count the thumps” method of seeing if you made it through. First thump was your legs hitting the far wall as you bottomed out, second thump was your head hitting the inside of the loop as you rounded the top, third thump was your head or legs coming back into contact with the slide after completing the loop.
I think you’re 100% on the nose though about how they designed their rides. They just went straight from concept to building, without any real in-between engineering phase. Many of them were also built to incorporate natural water sources and the existing slopes of the mountain they were built on, in order to reduce build costs.
-HansAugust 18, 2011 at 11:44 pm #13833
Ah, an escape hatch, lol! The count the thumps method sounds aweful — especially hitting your head! Big ideas are great, but they maybe could have used some experienced designers 😉I was lucky to have season passes to Adventure Island as a kid, which was owned by Busch Gardens… a little easier to survive there!August 20, 2011 at 9:42 am #13837
Well, it was a product of the late 70’s / early 80’s. These days you can model the physics to some degree in a computer, then build up to a full scale test. But that kind of fluid modelling just wasn’t available back then. Heck any kind of loops in a coaster were still somewhat new and exciting at the time, and they probably were trying to cash in.
Then you’ve got the complexity of dealing with water, since you can’t model it in scale. All done by a fairly low budget park trying to compete with Six Flags not too far away who had a number of big new coasters at the time.
But yeah, it was an aweful design that should have never been built…. much less had and riders. But even then, after they built it and it didn’t really work right, it shouldn’t have been TOO hard to convert into a conventional water slide without the loop.
-HansAugust 25, 2011 at 11:14 pm #13841
I guess that looping coasters were kindof a novelty in the 1970’s, although there were actually some looping coasters way before that. What initially caught my eye about this water slide was the fact that it was a perfectly circular loop. Around the turn of the century, they created looping coasters that had perfectly circular loops, and they found out that it was way too much force for the human body and created a potential for injury. After that, they started created teardrop shaped loops and to this day, if you see a vertical loop on a coaster, it is probably teardrop shaped. It is possible that the people who created this waterslide didn’t know about the history there… It is said that after the Great Depression, many of the grand old theme parks went bankrupt (if they hadn’t already been burned down by random fires, since they were often built of very flammable materials)… and then the World Wars prevented theme parks from really resurging for quite some time. When theme parks came back in the 1950’s, they were often little themed areas built to cater to small children (because of the Baby Boom). So maybe in the 1970s, people were just started to create water parks that appealed to older audiences. Perhaps also, they thought that gravity was of much less consequence when dealing with water (verses a coaster). Possibly also, safety might not have been as much of an issue then. Now, we think about it all of the time, because we are nervous of someone even stepping wrong on their ankle when getting on and off a ride or bumping their head on a sign, and the ride itself has to be perfect. The 1970s were probably a bit different in this regard…August 29, 2011 at 2:31 am #13845
I always suspected they did the perfect loop mainly because they were both oblivious and cheap. It does look as if they used off the shelf segments meant for something other than water slides, doesn’t it? Though it’s missing the big flanges you normally see in water slides, so I wonder if that was drainage culvert material, or sewer pipe?
Though it looks even worse to me than a perfect loop, as it has that extended entrance section to the loop… the centripital accelleration going into that thing must have been a beast, as it actually spirals tighter as it goes into the rising portion of the loops.
-HansAugust 31, 2011 at 1:33 am #13849
Yeah… I am not sure of the physics, but it is weirder the more that I look. I assumed that the loop was smallish, but now I am looking at the photo with people in it. That is one big loop!
I didn’t even think of the building material! I can see in another photo that for another slide, they did use the pre-cast fiberglass waterslide sections… but on the Cannonball loop, those segments are very small! From the photos, it looks like each section of the Cannonball Loop is a foot or less… I wonder if they did find an industrial material and figured it would be a savings over the waterslide materials bought from a waterslide vendor!
If there’s one thing that you could say about Action Park, it certainly has personality. It is interesting to go to small parks and see how quirky they are. There used to be a little theme park in the panhandle of Florida that had a ride inside of a building shaped like a yeti… and a haunted house ride where you loaded a tiny vehicle and went through tiny rooms and the vehicle felt like it was barely managing to struggle its way through the attraction. I rode alone, and it was actually a bit scary in a psychological way… Because of different constraints, little parks seem to be really one of a kind, unique places!September 1, 2011 at 12:17 am #13851
My estimates, assuming a 36″ diameter pipe section, is about a 21′ high apex on the loop. I wonder if they made the loop tighter like that on purpose, in order to accellerate it a bit? I can’t see it being easy to keep the water going around all the way. I wish I had access to something that could do fluid modelling on that scale, would be interesting to see how it acted in there. Though I’d say it’s still safer than that Human Trebucet was, no matter how poorly executed this one was.
Yeah, Action Park definitely had a strong personality, and I think a lot of the mystique of danger was what helped it to succeed until they got crushed under lawsuits. The constant TV commercials were one thing, but the word of mouth effect was very powerful there. When I was a teenager, everybody always wanted to go to Action Park, because it had that extreme atmosphere about it. Even the current park, Mountain Creek, still has a few of the more unique attractions still in place apparently. Cliff Diver, Cannonball Falls and the Tarzan Swing were the ones people always talked about. These days we now have a much closer water park called “Splish Splash”, and I still think of it as bland compared to Action Park.
The “Cannonball Falls” (which is a totally different ride, confusing eh?) was fiberglass sections bolted together, usually easy to spot fiberglass sections because of the big flanges. On the Cannonball Loop the lack of flanges and no other visible mechanical means of connection, makes me think it was welded steel. They did that a lot, using non standard materials to make rides in-house. IIRC one of their rides was made up of the rollers like you would see in a warehouse conveyer system…. with a little sled you rode down until you hit a pool of water.
If you look closely, you’ll also notice zero plumbing on the entire length of the slide. ALL the water came in from the top, with the rider. These you usually see supplemental water pumping in all over the place on a slide. Best I can remember, all of the hard slides only had the water coming in from the top entrance. Made for a lot of dry spots. Only the couple of big river rapids type water slide had any additional water pumping in, though not enough and still had some bad dry spots you could get stuck on.
-HansSeptember 9, 2011 at 12:48 pm #13858
On some of the rides at Adventure Island in Tampa, FL, I can remember slides that had water only from the top… but these rides also had good down-hill runs… They had one ride that had pools in the middle (downhill bumpy “whitewater”, then you hit a pool and an attendant pulled each float around and pushed you down the next section… They had “traffic lights” to make sure that the release of riders was paced correctly and there were jets in multiple places along the ride. As a kid, I would buy food by finding spare change in the pools at the bottom of each whitewater section and in the main pools, lol… It was amazing how much change got lost in the whitewater, and it would end up stuck in the cracks of the slower pools in between the whitewater sections, so you could just feel around while you were waiting to get pushed down the next section… That’s the only slide that I can remember that had a lot of jets, but maybe I just didn’t really notice extra jets on the other rides so much?
Human Trebuchet? Do I even want to ask, lol? I can see how kids would love the park, though. When we were little, my brother really wanted to do half-pipe skateboarding. He eventually gave up on it (our family is not known for being terribly coordinated, and trying to do tricks can scrape you up a lot). I think that a lot of kids want to get to that edge of danger, but not actually get hurt… adults too, I suppose, since there are many people who love roller coasters and thrill rides. I think the key is to make it feel dangerous, without there actually being any danger. Falling in an elevator just feels dangerous psychologically, even if it is the “Tower of Terror” at Disney Hollywood Studios…September 12, 2011 at 10:32 pm #13860
The human trebuchet is one of those things where anybody with the slightest concern for the health and welfare of other human beings would have realized was a very very very bad idea. Unfortunately, it really did get built and it did cause at least one fatality before being shut down permanently.
-HansSeptember 18, 2011 at 1:58 am #13862
Theme park fatalities always sadden me, because these should be places where people can escape their day to day problems… I guess that as designers we just have to be mindful of all of the different aspects of what we are building: fun, safety, engineering, good visual design, good working conditions… Maybe that’s why a lot of parks use different people and teams to look at the different parts of the plan to make sure that, as far as we can manage, nothing is being overlooked before the thing is built…May 28, 2012 at 11:46 am #13950
AnonymousHHaase wrote:My estimates, assuming a 36″ diameter pipe section, is about a 21′ high apex on the loop. I wonder if they made the loop tighter like that on purpose, in order to accellerate it a bit? I can’t see it being easy to keep the water going around all the way. I wish I had access to something that could do fluid modelling on that scale, would be interesting to see how it acted in there. Though I’d say it’s still safer than that Human Trebucet was, no matter how poorly executed this one was.Quote:
Had you tried contacting a university that does computational fluid dynamics work? I seem to recall City University in the UK did some work on fluid Dynamics (albiet for an engineering application as oppsoed to water slide design).May 30, 2012 at 12:38 am #13953
Had you tried contacting a university that does computational fluid dynamics work? I seem to recall City University in the UK did some work on fluid Dynamics (albiet for an engineering application as oppsoed to water slide design).
No. It’s the sort of thing that while I find it very interesting, I don’t have the time to pursue it as an outsider. I’m busy enough just trying to get my electronics company off the ground. If I were to be doing actual design work in the field, that is a solid option though.
If I were to design a looping water slide though, you can bet it wouldn’t look anything like that.
-HansJuly 13, 2012 at 10:08 pm #13958
One of the companies does make a “looping” water slide, but no, it doesn’t look anything like that one! I wish I could remember off the top of my head which company it is…
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